The March of Cynics

Olmert is wringing every last drop out of people?s desire for peace and will unashamedly exploit the weakness of the Palestinians, who are having to conduct peace negotiations, ostensibly, while scores of them are being killed by the Israeli army.

The prize for the most sharply cynical remark goes to President George W. Bush, who said in Ramallah of the Israel Defense Forces crossing points: "You'll be happy to hear that my motorcade of a mere 45 cars was able to make it through without being stopped." No doubt, he was speaking ironically, but even if he added that he wasn't "so exactly sure that's what happens to the average person," he should be reminded of the saying that one doesn't mention rope in a hanged man's home. Okay, so there's a lack of political and human understanding here, but isn't there even a drop of sensitivity and empathy?

This cynical remark made only the slightest impression on those who heard it. After all, the people who met with Bush are not the ones who are exposed to the humiliations that thousands go through at the barriers every day, and they even receive VIP treatment. Why should they express dissatisfaction with a spontaneous bit of nonsense when they feel no need to react to a stupid thing that someone in Bush's retinue formulated for the president? "Swiss cheese isn't going to work when it comes to the outline of a state. And I mean that," declared Bush. Right after that he said the drawing up of the future border will reflect the current reality. But it is the reality of the settlement blocs that has created the "Swiss cheese."

And really, what's the point of fussing over trivia when the very fact of the event is the embodiment of cynicism? The president of the United States visits a bunch of Palestinians who deck themselves in lofty titles, as though they represented a sovereign authority, and discusses a peace with them that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state within a year. These leaders owe their existence to the protection of the Israeli occupation - which of course they condemn and about which they managed to wring from the president a comment on the "need to end it." And they owe their survival to unprecedented financial aid.

With appalling cynicism, they have pretensions to conducting negotiations to end the conflict when they do not represent even one-quarter of the Palestinian population - the part that lives in the West Bank. They are discussing "the core issues" of the conflict when the core of their efforts is to get that huge sum of money that was promised them at the Paris conference. That money will come to them only if they concentrate on the appearance of negotiations. Those billions will allow them to go on supporting their inflated bureaucracy and their system of charitable handouts that covers most of the Palestinian population in the West Bank. But it is impossible to come complaining to a bunch of losers who are trying to survive. The leader of the only superpower is using them to improve his own position. Clearly, when he doesn't need them anymore and finds that he has no use for them, he will toss them to their fate without a moment's hesitation.

Bush and Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas), for whom cynicism is their means of survival, are joined by the greatest cynic of all, who has made cynicism into an art. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can give Bush and Abbas lessons on how to spin a story that exploits the hopes of naive people and relies on the feeling that if important people are busy with something, it is a sign that this something is important.

Olmert's cynicism is astonishing. He says bombastic things about how he was "elected with a broad diplomatic agenda, wants to bring about an agreement and intends to realize his vision." He is conducting negotiations in the prior knowledge that he is not capable of moving them ahead and completing them, never mind implementing them. He is intentionally blurring the difference between a theoretical "shelf agreement" and an agreement for which there is a commitment to implement it. Since he will never arrive at the first, there is no need to worry about the implementation of the second. Olmert is wringing every last drop out of people's desire for peace and will unashamedly exploit the weakness of the Palestinians, who are having to conduct peace negotiations, ostensibly, when scores of them are being killed by the Israeli army.

All means are justified to survive politically - all three cynics need each other in order to survive.